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Alaska's Mt. Redoubt erupts again, at least twice

Officials from a pipeline company assess conditions at a nearby oil storage facility to determine whether to remove its contents.

March 26, 2009|Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Alaska's Mt. Redoubt erupted at least twice Wednesday as officials from a pipeline company assessed conditions at a nearby oil storage facility to determine whether to remove its contents.

The Cook Inlet Pipeline Co., which is partly owned by Chevron Corp., was planning to look at whether a pumping system could be used to offload 6.2 million gallons of oil stored in two tanks, if Chevron decided to remove it.

Pipeline contractor Lana Johnson said that Chevron had made no decision and that an airplane runway next to the facility was covered with debris and was unusable until cleared.

"Right now, nothing can happen, because you can't bring any equipment in because the runway is closed," Johnson said.

The small eruptions Wednesday were picked up by seismic monitors, which showed that a 10-minute blast occurred after 5 a.m. local time. That eruption emitted an ash plume about 15,000 feet high that drifted to sparsely populated areas to the north and northwest, the same direction as drifts from earlier blasts since Mt. Redoubt began erupting Sunday night.

A second eruption by the 10,200-foot volcano, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, about five hours later did not emit an ash cloud detected by radar, which meant ash did not rise above 12,000 feet.

Geologists said volcano-caused mudflows and flooding would remain a hazard in the Drift River valley, where the Cook Inlet oil facility is located.

Johnson said an assessment Tuesday found no damage to the oil tanks or a cement dike around the farms but that the terminal building was flooded. The facility had evacuated all 11 people from the site Monday.

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